Ports and vessels are critical to the construction and operation of an offshore wind project, and Maryland’s rich maritime history means the state is well positioned to support this new industry. Normally, a range of port types are required in service of offshore wind development, including ports for manufacturing, marshalling of materials (or the staging of project components), assembly, and storage (also known as “laydown”).
Maryland’s offshore wind project developers for Momentum Wind and Skipjack have both selected Tradepoint Atlantic, located at Sparrows Point in Baltimore County, MD, to be the center of this maritime activity. That means project components, like towers, foundations, and blades, will either be manufactured in Baltimore or shipped from other locations for final assembly, and then sent out to be installed in the offshore wind projects. Many different types of ships will be moving in and out of Baltimore harbor to complete these tasks and will require services and general maintenance.
While the Baltimore area will be utilized to help construct and install Maryland’s offshore wind projects, the harbor’s distance from the wind projects makes it difficult to conduct routine maintenance required to keep the turbines operational over the next 20 – 30 years. Instead, Operations & Maintenance (O&M) ports will be located much closer to the project areas in Ocean City, MD, which is about 100 miles southeast from Baltimore on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Small craft called Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) will transport technicians out to the turbines to perform maintenance and repairs when needed.
Before construction can begin, U.S. ports need to be identified as suitable for use and upgraded to ensure they can support the weight and size of offshore wind components. Ideal ports will have large areas for marshalling or laydown activities, strong enough land and docks to bear the weight of offshore wind components, the capacity to host cranes large enough to lift towers and monopiles, and waterways deep enough to allow larger vessels to access. Upgrade work has already begun at Tradepoint Atlantic where local companies and workers have been busy rebuilding the port facilities and docks. Construction will also soon begin on an O&M port in Ocean City, where Skipjack’s project developer announced in late 2021 that it secured property in West Ocean City for a $20 million emissions free facility (source). US Wind, project developer for MarWin and Momentum Wind, is also expected to secure its own O&M facility near Ocean City.